BBC’s former HR Director: “We need a completely new approach for internal communications”

Hester Gras
Lucy Adams
Lucy Adams

From March 23-25, BOC organizes its third Internal Communications Conference in London. During the event, MD of Firehouse and the BBC’s former Director of HR Lucy Adams will share her experiences: “I am hoping to provide some food for thought about how Internal Communicators can create and build trust, and how they can build leadership capability to communicate in a disrupted world.” imgZine got the opportunity to interview her about the blurring lines between HR and Internal Communications.

One of the services of your award-winning communications agency Firehouse is Disruptive HR. What do you mean by this?

“Traditional HR approaches are not keeping up with the demands of a disrupted world. We need to move more quickly, anticipate and respond to rapidly changing business models, consumer and employee expectations. So, I believe we need fresh approaches that challenge our assumptions of how we motivate our people, how we lead them and how we engage with them:

  1. A relationship with employees based on mutual trust
    between adults rather than the current parent/child dynamic.
  2. Focus on impact rather than the process. The traditional appraisal
    doesn’t deliver what we expect. We need to focus on the individual.
  3. Prepare for disruption instead of complying with the status quo.
    Identify future leaders, create organizations that can quickly respond to
    change and create exciting work places for the new generation of employees.


hh-20844361What role does the internal communications strategy have in achieving this?

“How we communicate and how we listen is vital to this new approach. The tired old engagement survey, the broadcast techniques of yesterday and the fun but patronizing employee engagement initiatives need to be replaced with approaches that are based on different assumptions – such as ‘my employee is not a child’, ‘people are motivated by so much more than a bonus’, ‘one size cannot fit all’.”

How can IC teams translate these ideas into concrete elements?

“Factoring in greater choice in how you receive and communicate messages, embracing social media and digital, mobile based communications, incorporating much greater use of qualitative research tools and enabling staff led engagement rather than top down engagement initiatives.”

How should HR and IC teams work together to get the best results?

“They should work together at both a strategic and operational level, as this is crucial for the delivery of a compelling employee value proposition. This includes three key elements: the Promise (the employee brand), the Personality (the organization’s values) and the Relationship (the people policies and processes). In order to make sure they are harmonious and mutually reinforcing, HR and IC teams need to be joined at the hip in its creation – not just its execution.”

business-561388_640What do you think is the future of internal communications?

“Traditionally, Internal Communications tended to be about taking the key messages from the leaders and sharing them with their employees (newsletter central). Now, it’s all about the individual employee, how they prefer to communicate and receive information. When are they motivated and what will encourage and enable their performance? Leaders will understand how to build trust and will coach others in changing their approach. Digital, social media and collaboration between IC and HR, Marketing and Strategy are key to help your business and employees get the most from each other.”

Hear Lucy Adams speak about the challenge of leadership communications at the Internal Communications Conference on March 24, 2015.






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